Killer's Kiss

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this destruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates these elements that destroy the overt and naturalistic story line. The surface story lines are the principle ones, and this is maintained and supported by the intentional obfuscation of the deconstructive elements which keep them sub rosa. At the same time, these deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and once we bypass the disorientation and his purposeful refocusing they become a puzzle, annihilating the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept that most people stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors when they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as instead ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form.



237 Sunset over the city 34:22

DAVEY (voice-over): Looking back now, I really don't know what her reasons were then, but she agreed to come out to Seattle with me. I should have had sense enough though to know it was no good and that she was so scared she'd grab at anything. But I was kidding myself and all I could think of was how much I wanted her. We made train reservations and wired Uncle George to brace himself for a niece, and then we began to get our finances together.

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238 MS Vincent in his office. (34:48)

The phone rings and he picks it up.


LOUIS: This is Louie, out front. Irene Price just called (can't tell what's said for a couple words) she's coming in tonight to pick up her last week's salary. You there Mr. Rapallo?

VINCENT: Thanks. Goodbye.

Vincent wanders over by a few photographs of an older woman, presumably his mother.

239 Vincent's reflection in a mirror. (35:24)

240 2 Mocking Vaudeville style clowns stare back at Vincent from a window. (35:30)

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241 Vincent's reflection in a mirror. He breaks the mirror with his glass. (35:32)

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Shot 238

Shot 239

Shot 240

Shot 241

242 LS Albert at the gym. (36:02)

The phone rings several times as Albert watches a boxer. He answers the phone.

DAVEY (off screen): Hello, Albert.

ALBERT: Hello there, Davey. How are you?

DAVEY (off screen): Okay, thanks. Listen, Albert, have you got enough money on you to cash my check from yesterday?

ALBERT: What's the rush? The banks open in the morning.

DAVEY (off screen): Well, I don't feel too good, Albert. I think I'll go out to Seattle for a while and Take stock of things.

ALBERT: Wait a minute, I'll see.

DAVEY: Thanks. I appreciate it.

ALBERT (checks his wallet): Okay, come on over.

243 MLS Davey sitting on Gloria's bed with her. (36:27)

DAVEY: How about Pleasure Land instead. You know that...

244 MCU Gloria holding her doll. (36:30) DAVEY (off screen): hall at 49th and Broadway. Maybe around 8 tonight, uh?

245 MS Albert. (35:34)

ALBERT: I'll be there but it has to be 8:15 sharp. I'm taking my wife to a show and I'll just about make it.

DAVEY (off screen): All right. I'll see you there. Take it easy.


Shot 242

Shot 243

Shot 244

Shot 245

246 Crossfade to 2 conventioneers cavorting drunkenly down the street, one playing harmonica. (36:47)

The harmonica player plays "Old Susanna".

247 Dancing Partners sign outside the dance hall. (36:57)

248 Another Dancing Partners sign outside the dance hall. (37:00)

249 LS Davey and Gloria crossing the street. (37:02)

250 Gloria approaches the Pleasure Land entrance. (37:18)

251 Davey throws a kiss at Gloria as she glances back. (37:19)

252 Gloria throws a kiss as well. (37:20)

253 Gloria mounts the stairway up to Pleasure Land. (37:27)

Shot 246

Shot 247

Shot 248

Shot 249

Shot 250

Shot 251

Shot 252

Shot 253

254 MS Davey on the sidewalk. (37:31)

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255 LS The Two conventioneers. (37:34)

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256 LS Gloria in Pleasure Land. She makes her way across the dance floor to Vincent. (37:49)

257 MS Davey on the sidewalk. (38:15)

258 LS The Two conventioneers. (38:19)

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259 CU Gloria. (38:30)

VINCENT (off screen): Still feel the same way?


260 MS Vincent in front of "The Cherry Pickers" theatrical poster. (38:33)

VINCENT: I understand you're going away some place.

GLORIA (off screen): Yes.


GLORIA (off screen): That's my business. I came for my pay check.

VINCENT: Oh, sure. How much do I owe you?

GLORIA (off screen): A week.

VINCENT: Can't you tell me where you're going?

GLORIA (off screen): No.

261 CU Gloria. (38:49)

VINCENT (off screen): Will I ever see you again?

GLORIA: I doubt it.

VINCENT (off screen): I couldn't take that.

GLORIA: You'll have to.

262 CU Vincent. (38:53)

VINCENT: That's not true.

GLORIA (off screen): Why isn't it?

VINCENT (opening a drawer): I could kill you right here and now.

GLORIA: Oh, I don't think you will.

VINCENT (putting a cigar in his mouth): I wouldn't be too sure of that.

263 MS Gloria before the venetian blinds. (39:06)

GLORIA: Look, Vinnie, I really am in a hurry.

VINCENT: For what?

GLORIA: Somebody's waiting downstairs.

264 MS Vincent. (39:12)

265 MS Gloria before the venetian blinds. Vincent approaches, lighting his cigar (39:14)

266 CU Vincent looking out the window. (39:19)

267 CU Vincent facing Gloria, from beyond her right shoulder. (39:21)

VINCENT: You going away with him?

GLORIA: I don't have to tell you anything.

VINCENT: All the same, you are though, aren't you?

GLORIA: You'll figure it out.

VINCENT: Then you are.

GLORIA: No comment.

VINCENT: Look, he's a bum. You'll spend the rest of your life grubbing for him.

GLORIA: Is that so?

VINCENT: Sure. Like the man said, can happiness buy money?

GLORIA: Well, you're a comedienne, too. See what I'm missing?

268 MS Vincent from beyond Gloria's left shoulder. (39:40)

VINCENT: Get out.

GLORIA: I'm not...

269 MCU Vincent, Gloria beyond. (39:49)

GLORIA: ...asking for favors, but you owe it to me.

VINCENT: Get out!

Gloria exits.

Shot 254

Shot 255

Shot 256

Shot 257

Shot 258

Shot 259

Shot 260

Shot 261

Shot 262

Shot 263

Shot 264

Shot 265

Shot 266

Shot 267

Shot 268

Shot 269

270 The conventioneers still making their way down the sidewalk. (39:57)

271 MS Davey waiting for Gloria. (40:05)

The conventioneers dance up to Davey. One brushes off his suit with a paintbrush. Doing so, he takes Davey's scarf.

DAVEY: Hey...

272 MLS Davey good-naturedly tries to retrieve his scarf. (40:15)

DAVEY: Come on, give me back the scarf.

273 The conventioneers. (40:20)

274 MCU Conventioneer. (40:22)

275 Davey pursues the conventioneers. (40:26)

276 Davey pursues the conventioneers. (40:30)

277 Davey's manager pulls up in a cab and gets out. (40:33)

Shot 270

Shot 271

Shot 272

Shot 273

Shot 274

Shot 275

Shot 276

Shot 277

278 Davey's manager before the Pleasure Land door. (40:47)

279 Street scene. (40:51)

280 The Pleasure Land dance floor. (40:53)

Vincent stumbles out and goes to speak to his gangsters.

281 Gloria exits onto the sidewalk and stands beside the manager at the door, not knowing who he is. (41:00)

282 The Pleasure Land stairway. (41:08)

The two gangsters enter the stairway. One remains on a landing while another goes down to get Gloria.

GANGSTER (to Gloria): The boss says he's sorry and if you go upstairs you can collect your money.

Gloria goes upstairs. After she passes the second bouncer who goes outside.

283 MLS of Davey on the street, having retrieved his scarf. (41:52)

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284 Davey on the street, having retrieved his scarf, heads back to the Pleasure Land. (41:59)

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285 Davey returns to the Pleasure Land sidewalk. (42:05)

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286 The Pleasure Land doors. (42:14)

287 The two gangsters chase Albert into an alley. (42:17)

ALBERT: What do you guys want? (He falls on a box and clambers back up, losing his hat.) Who are you? Here. You want my money? Take it.

One bouncer slaps the wallet away. Albert slaps on closed windows. We hear laughter from an invisible (theater) audience.

288 Albert is backed into a corner. (42:53)

289 Gloria going down the Pleasure Land stairway. (43:06)

290 Pleasure Land doors from outside, Gloria pressing through them. (43:15)

291 MS Davey. (43:18)

GLORIA: Where'd you go?

DAVEY: Some jerk grabbed my scarf. Did you get the money?

GLORIA: First he said no then he gave me an extra $100.

DAVEY: That's weird. Did you see Albert?

GLORIA: I don't know. Somebody was here.

292 The alley. The two gangsters hustle to leave it, throwing Albert's hat and wallet on his body. (41:08)

293 Davey and Gloria. (44:04)

DAVEY: I guess he got tired of waiting. We'll call him when he gets home.

Begin blur transition as they cross street.

Shot 278

Shot 279

Shot 280

Shot 281

Shot 282

Shot 283

Shot 284

Shot 285

Shot 286

Shot 287

Shot 288

Shot 289

Shot 290

Shot 291

Shot 292

Shot 293

Shot 293a

Shot 294

Shots 237-293, Things to Notice

The Mocking Clowns and the Broken Mirror

Another shot that Kubrick would have known would be an attention-getter is this mirror one in which Vincent appears to be reacting to viewing two clowns mocking him through a window, standing in for his own reflection, and smashes his glass against the mirror. We never do see the source for this vision, it appearing to be internal. The office is wood-paneled and the clowns appear certainly to be an illustration positioned in a real window frame.

The function of the shot seems to be oracular, concerning the two Shriner "clowns" who will distract Davey from the harm planned him.

But let's also return a moment to shot 144. What is happening there? Davey has woken from his nightmare of the negative-positive inverted streets. Hearing Gloria scream, he rushes to the window. We see Vincent through Gloria's window. He covers his face, reaches up to pull down the window shade but it pops back up. He flees. Another layer of interpretation is we are having here Vincent's POV of view of seeing out through that window the two clowns maliciously grinning back at him. Fate, as Davey and the two clowns, is a matter of Vincent's criminal actions which set the stage on which he's eventually killed.

Albert at the Gym

In section one, we had the odd shot of Albert at the gym which made him appear to be before a blue screen. It is now, with our second viewing of Albert at the gym, in shots 242 and 245, that Kubrick clarifies and shows Albert moving from the main body of the gym to the fore to answer the phone, and so we are certain that it's not a blue screen behind, we instead just have some very odd lighting going on. What it does is separate Albert from the boxers at the gym even while having him in their space and even briefly, physically interacting with one of them. Considering that Albert's death is preceded with more views of the theater posters in Vincent's office, and Albert is taking his wife to a show which he'll "just about make", Kubrick may be using these shots to set off Albert as becoming part of the melodramatic spectacle himself. Kubrick surrounds Albert's killing with the sound of audience laughter as he bangs upon windows trying to escape from the alley into the theater. As the subject, he is unable to take his seat as only a viewer of the spectacle, and is unable to intersect with the audience. Kubrick in later films plays with audience objectivity and subjectity in relationship to what they are viewing on the screen, and may be doing so already here.

I'll return to the idea of possibility of audience and on-screen interaction in section four when I'm discussing the card trick that distracts Davey. In preparation for this, please note that across from the place of the supposed Pleasure Land, Himberama is advertized, the sign showing a rabbit leaping out of a hat. Richard Himber was both an orchestra director and a magician, combining both ultimately. I'll return to the subject of Himber when looking at Davey's being overcome by the card trick.

Watch Your Step and The Two Conventioneers

In shot 255, though it doesn't look like it as they don't cross each other's paths yet, the conventioneers are carousing down the same side of the street as Davey. They are opposite the Bond clothing store, the Grand Union, the Planters Peanuts sign (we see the Grand Union and Planters sign prominently in shots of Davey) and the RKO at 6th Avenue and 49th Street.

The Parisian Dance Land, where filming took place (though not the sidewalk scenes of Davey) was located to the left of the RKO Palace, next to Whelan Drugs, on the 2nd floor. You can just make it out in the third screen grab from shot 255 below.

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We can see in some images, down this sidewalk, in the vicinity of Childs, the Globe theater at 205 W. 46th St., and the Holiday theater at 1567 Broadway across from the RKO Palace. The Orpheum, a famous taxi-dancer place, was at 46th and Broadway.

And below is a 1953 photo from a govt website showing the Parisian. Kubrick filmed the advertisements of the hostesses above the Parisian. He didn't film the sidewalk shots before the Parisian. I'm unclear if Kubrick might have filmed the interior dance floor scenes at the Parisian or not.

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In shot 258, the conventioneers are now across the street from Childs (you can see it on the corner by the automat), and Victoria Theater (1547 Broadway at 46 St.) where The Man Between plays, the Astor Theater (1537 Broadway at 45th St.) and Cardinal. The shots of Davey are taken somewhere right beside the Victoria so this means the conventioneers are across the street from Davey and the Pleasure Land.

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In shot 270 we have the conventioneers carousing down a sidewalk view that doesn't afford us an establishing shot as to where they might be. The street is on their screen left, but, in shot 271, when they come upon Davey the street appears to be on their screen right. When the clowns run away with Davey's scarf the street is on their screen right, but in shot 276 Davey will be seen pursuing them past the same theater front as in shot 270 and the street will be on their left.

In shot 283, Davey, having retrieved his scarf, walks down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from the Astor. This places him in the position of the clowns in shot 258. He is across the street from the Pleasure Land and heading away from it.

In shot 284 Davey is walking away from the Embassy Theater at 7th and 47th Street. Then in shot 285 he is walking from Childs back toward where he was originally standing.

If I pay attention to where exactly the conventioneers and Davey are in these different shots, it's due the "Watch Your Step" sign in the hallway leading up to the Pleasure Land dance hall. This is taken to be a wry reference to Gloria (and Davey) being in a state of danger. Albert as well. But what do we have outside, in conjunction with this, but the wild steps of the conventioneers. The way the scene is edited, the sidewalk is almost always on the outside right of the conventioneers, rather than the left, so the feeling is that they are ever progressing down the same walk towards Davey. One likely doesn't realize that they are at one point across the street. One certainly wouldn't expect Davey to be across the street. I'm reminded especially of 2001 in which we see Frank Poole fly off to the screen left of the Discovery, and if we examine the shots carefully we realize that Bowman pursues Poole's body off the screen right of the Discovery. In The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut if we pay attention to the "where" of certain shots we become aware of Kubrick establishing a kind of ground zero to the action, perhaps not dissimilar to a chess board conceived of as being divided down the center and opposing perspectives had from either side. Kubrick makes particular use of this in 2001 in the scene where HAL plays chess with Frank, HAL relating some chess moves in such a way that reveals he is seeing them from Frank's perspective rather than either his own or only his own. This is perceived by many to be a critical fault in HAL, though I have some cause to disagree.

The clowns are as if an intentional kink in Vicent's plans, tossed in by fate and the "gods", to distract Davey away from Pleasure Land and out of danger.

Part of Davey's problem is he's just too damn nice and also doesn't see the big picture. Rather than telling the clowns to get lost, he good-naturedly puts up with their antics. He is unable to read their intentions. This is much the same as his predicament in the ring, and will later be replayed when he has the upper hand when attempting to rescue Gloria then is knocked out by the thugs. He won't anticpate the greater scheme as the thugs plot to overcome him, and though he has a gun on them and a couple of others in his pockets he won't fire a shot. It won't be until the duel in the mannequin factory that Davey wins finally the role of the victor which has eluded him.

The Man Between

Speaking of ground zeros and opposing perspectives on a chess board, we see that The Man Between is playing at one of the movie theaters. The Man Between starred James Mason (who will later be in Lolita) as a (Wikipedia here) "former lawyer who has participated in Nazi atrocities and is now selling his expertise to East Germans to kidnap and transport certain West Germans to the eastern bloc. Although Kern (Mason) desires to relocate to the West, he is hampered by West German suspicions and his criminal past. Nevertheless, he agrees to a final kidnapping venture that fails, forcing his employer to take over and abduct Briton Suasanne Mallison by mistake. Kern had earlier feigned a romance with Mallison as a means to seize his kidnapping target. The abduction of Mallison presents Kern with an opportunity to both return the unfortunate victim to the West and impress western authorities with his atonement." To make a longer story a trifle shorter, Mallison falls in love with him. Despite his conviction that he's a bad man, Kern falls in love with her and when their escape to the West is endangered, he distracts the border guards, endangering his own life. Mallison successfully escapes and Kern is killed by the border guards. This movie was directed by Carol Reed, who had also directed The Third Man starring Orson Welles.

8:15 Sharp

Davey's manager had agreed, in shot 245, to meet with him at exactly 8:15 sharp. In shot 277 we see a clock behind him as he arrives in his taxi and it is 7:30. A simple change in dialogue could have averted this discrepancy so the difference may be purposeful, just as we had the error at the ticket office with the price of admission being 83 cents plus 7 cents tax but totaling $1.00. It's curious that this error in time occurs in front of Pleasureland where we had the other error as well.

The Alley

The shot of the alley in which Davey's manager is killed (292) has always evoked, for me, the below shot from Cocteau's Orpheus.

I would pass this over except that there are several other shots that seem indebted to Orpheus, which I will discuss in section 4.


294 MS Davey at Penn Station. (44:17)

DAVEY (narration): We had some ham and eggs and took our time saying goodbye to the bright lights and then we went home. Downstairs in the courtyard, I suggested that we each go and get packed and I'd come over when I was through.

Begin blur transition.

295 MS Davey in his apartment. (44:17)

Davey writing a note on his table, we see what he doesn't, the silhouette of a man in a hat crossing before Gloria's window.

296 CU the fish bowl and the note. (44:45)

Davey places a note before the fishbowl asking that the fish please be fed once a day.

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297 MLS Davey slips on his coat. (44:48)

298 CU Davey tosses the keys on the dresser. (44:58)

299 MLS Davey gets his bags, goes to the door and exits. (44:59)

300 Davey mounts the stairs to the roof. (45:14)

301 Davey exits onto the roof. (45:32)

A train whistle sounds.

302 Davey enters Gloria's stairwell. (45:47)

303 Davey goes down Gloria's stairs. (45:55)

304 MLS Davey enters Gloria's apartment. (46:10)

305 Gloria's empty apartment, the kitchenette. (46:15)

POLICE (off screen, at Davey's apartment): Open up...

306 Gloria's empty apartment, the bed. (46:16)

POLICE (off screen, at Davey's apartment): there!

307 LS Davey gazing about. (46:17)

We hear more pounding on the door.

308 MCU Davey drops his bags. (46:21)

309 Panning shot to the window. (46:21)

POLICE (off screen, at Davey's apartment): Open the door!

310 Davey goes to the window. (46:25)

POLICE (off screen, at Davey's apartment): Gordon! Open the door!

312 Davey's hand in silhouette pulling aside the blind. (46:29)

The light in his apartment comes on and the police and landlord enter and look around.

LANDLORD: Looks like he's gone.

POLICEMAN: You know where?

LANDLORD: No, sir.

POLICEMAN: Where's he from?

LANDLORD: I don't know.

POLICEMAN: When did he leave?

LANDLORD: I don't know.

POLICEMAN: How long did he live here?

LANDLORD: Oh, uh, about a year.

POLICEMAN: Give me a hand with this drawer. It's jammed.

LANDLORD (helping): Say, what kind of trouble is he in?

POLICEMAN: Bad trouble. They found his manager's body about an hour ago with his head bashed in.

312 Davey's eye through his blind. (47:20)

POLICEMAN (off screen): Okay, let's go.

313 The police leave Davey's apartment. (47:26)

The silhouette of Davey's hand drops the blind back down.

314 LS Davey in Gloria's apartment. He places his scarf on her table. (47:32)

315 MS of Davey through Gloria's window. (47:35)

316 CU Davey opens his suitcase and takes out a gun. (47:44)

317 Street scene at Pleasure Land. (47:47)

318 Dance Hall Hostesses sign. (47:53)

319 Vincent exits Pleasure Land. (47:57)

320 Vincent climbs in his car. (48:02)

321 MCU Vincent in his car. (48:10)

322 Vincent drives off. (48:16)

323 Davey, in a cab behind, follows. (48:19)

324 The cab pulls away from the curb. (48:22)

325 The night street. (48:27)

Shot 294

Shot 294

Shot 295

Shot 295

Shot 296

Shot 297

Shot 297

Shot 298

Shot 300

Shot 300a

Shot 301

Shot 302

Shot 303

Shot 303a

Shot 304

Shot 305

Shot 306

Shot 307

Shot 308

Shot 309

Shot 310

Shot 311

Shot 311a

Shot 312

Shot 313

Shot 314

Shot 315

Shot 316

Shot 317

Shot 318

Shot 319

Shot 320

Shot 321

Shot 322

Shot 323

Shot 324

Shot 325

Shots 294-325, Things to Notice

I don't have anything really to note here that I haven't already on the manner in which the apartments mirror one another etc., and I have already pointed out that it is in this section that Kubrick makes a strong tie between the two apartments. This may be observed in the keys that Davey tosses on his dresser, if one perceives them as twin keys.

There is one thing to note, the spiral shell in the goldfish bowl which could be taken as referring to the labyrinthine nature of things.

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Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (with supplemental posts)
Link to the main Kubrick page for all the analyses